March 2, 2007 / 8:56 PM / 12 years ago

Condom mishaps common among young men, study shows

A man checks condoms at the AIDS-awareness display at an exhibition in Shanghai March 2, 2006. Many young men could use a bit more instruction on proper condom use, according to lead author of a new study that found nearly one in three experienced recent condom breakage. REUTERS/Stringer

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Many young men could use a bit more instruction on proper condom use, according to lead author of a new study that found nearly one in three experienced recent condom breakage.

“We give condoms away all the time, and unfortunately that’s often all that we do,” Dr. R. A. Crosby of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, told Reuters Health. “I think it’s important to take men beyond consistent use when we make attempts to intervene, and promote the correct use as well.”

Crosby and his colleagues interviewed 278 men between the ages of 18 and 35 years old attending a public sexually transmitted infection clinic to understand how frequently and why condom breakage occurs. All of the men reported using a condom during intercourse at least three times in the previous three months.

Thirty-one percent reported at least one recent instance of condom breakage. Men who previously had a sexually transmitted infection were twice as likely to report condom breakage, while men who reported problems with condom slippage were nearly three times as likely to have problems with condom breakage. Those who said they didn’t feel confident with their ability to use condoms were also more likely to have experienced condom breakage.

Other risk factors were allowing condoms to contact a sharp object, having problems with the “fit and feel” of condoms, not squeezing air from the condom’s receptacle tip. Each of these three factors increased the risk of condom breakage by about two-fold.

The findings show that identifying men who need more information on how to use a condom could be as simple as asking them if they have problems with condom breakage or slippage, have had an sexually transmitted infection in the past, or don’t feel confident about using condoms, Crosby noted.

Men should also be instructed to avoid letting teeth, nails or other sharp objects to come in contact with a condom, he added, and should never use scissors to open a package.

He added that sexually transmitted disease clinics should ideally provide a range of sizes and brands of condoms to their clients, so men can find the best fit.

SOURCE: Sexually Transmitted Infections, February 2007.

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